What’s The Buzz? Join us for Lunch to Find Out.

Over the past couple of years, through our popular quarterly Lunch & Learn programs, we have tried to present new marketing tips, tricks and techniques.  Our goals are to continue to help you add more arrows to your quiver to enable you to make your marketing efforts, and the measurement of those efforts, more effective.

Our next Lunch & Learn on Thursday, November 29, takes a slightly different approach.  With the variety of marketing channels available, it becomes critical for successful marketing professionals to focus on the necessary tasks to support the organization’s marketing goals.  In addition to the tools, it is also necessary to incorporate not just a project management tool, but a marketing management tool.  Marketers must be able to effectively focus on how to create, store and distribute marketing content in ways that not only save money, but maximize resources while producing higher returns on marketing investment. And that’s exactly what our next Lunch & Learn will showcase.

Jon Davis, COO of lee|Stafford, will present marketing success stories that utilized their Beehive Protocol software.  The Beehive Software solution empowers marketers to support multiple campaigns, channels and activities – both online and offline.  In short, it provides ways to help marketers - Organize, Communicate, Respond, Track, Adjust and Improve.

Jon is a veteran of the medical device and healthcare industries.  He has been instrumental in the development of patient communication efforts and in thousands of product launches that represent billions of dollars in sales for his clients, all using the BeeHive Protocol proprietary software that he helped develop.

Please join us for lunch as Jon introduces this concept of how to available software allows you to maximize your quick response marketing needs in compelling case study examples.

And if that is not incentive enough, one lucky attendee will win a new iPad Mini!

I look forward to seeing you on the 29th!  Register here.


Paul Strack, CustomXM


A Printer Looks at Fifty

(With apologies to Jimmy Buffet.)

Mother, mother offset

I have heard your call,

Recognized the smell of your ink

Since I was three feet tall.  You’ve seen it all,

You’ve seen it all.


Watched the men who ran you,

Switch from film to plate.

And in your rollers you held the treasure

We thought would never outdate.  You printed dreams,

You printed dreams.

Yes, I am a printer

Six hundred years too late

The presses don’t thunder, it causes me to wonder

I’m an over fifty victim of fate; arriving too late.

Hell, I’m not too late.


I’ve done a little cross media,

I’ve run my share of stock

I made enough money to Google Miami

But I pissed it away so fast, never meant to last

Never meant to last.


I have been marketing now for over 6 years,

I passed out QR codes and measured till in tears

But I’ve got to keep preachin’, got to keep teachin’

I’ll Lunch and Learn, again.  I’ll invite friends.

Engagement never ends.


I go for younger gadgets

Tried several for a while,

Sure they confuse me and often they lose me

And yet they still make me smile.

It just takes a while, just takes a while.


Mother, mother offset,

After all these years I’ve found

My occupational hazard being

My occupation’s just not around

There’s a movement aground.  Gonna head downtown.


There’s a movement aground.

I may just head downtown.


Paul Strack, CustomXM


If You Aren’t Doing This, You Are Stupid!

Having recently attended an industry conference, it’s always refreshing to take the time and go through my notes to see what nuggets have been gleaned.  I am a firm believer that if I can find three or four “takeaways” that allow me to improve what I am doing, then it was money well spent.

imageThis year proved to be no exception, with ideas on improving productivity, new markets to consider, and a heightened awareness of the continuing challenges that lay ahead.  As has been the message for some time now, we can’t really expect an upward shift in the economy to assist our industry. Instead, we will have to continue to create and manage our own recovery.

Often during these conferences, the message is more of a soft sell.  “You might want to look into this opportunity.”  “Hey, it’s possible this could work for your operations.” And the ever-present, “There is no better time to get out than now!”

This year had a little stronger tone, and more of a sense of urgency.  Basically, the prevailing message shouted: “If you aren’t doing this, you are stupid!!”

So where is it that some of us are so lacking in intelligence?

Multi-Channel Marketing

Today our audiences are found in more marketing avenues than ever before.  Social, web, email, mobile, and yes, even print.  Print is still a viable alternative, just not the only alternative.  Are we taking advantage of the opportunities within these channels? Many are extremely cost efficient, and all offer more ways than ever to properly measure this effectiveness. 

If we aren’t doing this, we are stupid.

Mobile Marketing

We know that mobile penetration is over 100% of the US population, and that smartphone adoption continues its upward trajectory. We’ve seen statistics that tell us local mobile searches continue to soar.  In fact, some studies have reported that 65% of smartphone users perform local restaurant searches.  And surprisingly, 95% of independently owned restaurants do not have a mobile site.  Do we have a mobile friendly presence?  Are we preparing for the continuing migration toward mobile? Are we looking for ways to improve our clients’ mobile experience? Are we using best practices with QR codes?  Are we learning about NFC and Augmented Reality?

If we aren’t doing this, we are stupid!

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM)

I mentioned that print is still very much in the mix when it comes to direct marketing channels.  And the USPS current mail saturation program – EDDM – allows businesses to specifically target zip codes, neighborhoods, or certain postal routes to send information, offers, coupons, and more directly to the customer’s home. EDDM lets you reach EVERY address within a neighborhood.  No need to purchase address lists; and the postage is at a fraction of the cost of standard postage. 

If we aren’t doing this, we are stupid!

Learning, talking, engaging

Communications tools continue to evolve. For better or for worse. But now, more than ever, we have ways of reaching our target audiences, engaging them, and measuring their responsiveness so that we can learn more about them. And that’s the difference. Today, it is all about them.  Not us.  So if we aren’t using these tools to engage, to listen, and to learn more about your clients, we should be.  Now. 

So basically, if we aren’t doing this, we are stupid!

Because this was a seminar that I paid for, I originally took some offense to this name calling.  Yes, I realize if I’m not doing these things, I need to get smarter about making them happen now.  But the very good news I see, as I review where we are and where we are heading, is that we are doing most, if not all of these.  And doing a pretty good job of it.

As a final day wrap up, these seminars always have a session on interpersonal skills.  And my takeaway from that is that I would certainly never, ever stoop to telling clients, prospects or readers that they are stupid for NOT considering some, if not all of these tools.

That being said, I mean really, if you aren’t doing this…


Paul Strack, CustomXM


I Know What I Did Last Summer…

Summertime and the living was (supposed to be) easy.  Theoretically, at least.  Traditionally, our business does experience a slowdown during the summer months.  Or maybe I do.  They say summer allows us time to recharge our batteries, reinvigorate our drive, and rejuvenate our thinking.  I’m not sure if all that is true or if I even understand that. But we did accomplish some very interesting, exciting things during the recently completed summer months:

We built a Wall.  (Actually, we prefer to call it THE WALL.)

If you know anything about me, you know I am a proponent for the correct use of QR codes and all things mobile.  And you may also know that mobile shopping via smartphones is on the rise, and continues to break records from previous years.  Naturally, I felt compelled to do our part. So we built The Wall at McCain Mall, combining mobile technology, QR codes and retail shopping in the state’s largest indoor mall.  This video explains it much better than I:

We built an App. (Actually, we “skinned an app.)

If you know anything about me, you know I am a proponent for making printed pieces more relevant to the end user.  And you may know that I enjoy new, unusual techniques that help accomplish this goal. Enter mobile Augmented Reality.   Using the Aurasma platform, we created our own version of this app that allows us to bring Augmented Reality to the mobile world. We now can literally bring your printed pieces to life!  You will soon be seeing much more of this technology, but we think you should be given the opportunity to try it now.  Watch this video, download the VREAL app, grab a dollar bill and get VREAL!

We built a new sideline operation and website. (Actually, almost.)

If you know anything about me, you know I truly enjoy marketing techniques that involve personal, direct and most importantly unique interaction. What better way to do this than to be given the ability to produce on-demand, short run, direct-to-garment products?  In other word, t-shirts.  And the emphasis is on short-run. You want to have an impact, and you want to make a difference in your personal communications, right? Direct-to-garment, uh, t-shirts are a great solution.  So think very short run – 10, 25, maybe 50.  We are not a screen printer. (But we can help you with that if you need it.)

We also decided that my son, Michael should do something constructive while attending – Arkansas State University, the Home of The Red Wolves. So he created a sideline business called Wolf Prints.  Nice name, nice touch.

So he will be selling shirts to fraternities and the like, but we will sell them too.  We almost have a web site done.  But in the meantime, if you need another creative way to make a statement, give us a Howl!

There you have it - now YOU know what I did last summer.  What did you do?  And more importantly, how can we help you tell others about it?

Find The Wall on Facebook & Twitter


Paul Strack, CustomXM


Is it still ok to think outside the box?

If I recall correctly, we retired the phrase “think outside the box” a few years ago. And rightly so. It was a tired cliché, and its use rarely led to a win-win situation that allowed us the opportunity to wrap our head around it to continue the paradigm shift. So I won’t go there.

Recently, a couple of marketing projects afforded us to avoid that cliché completely, and more importantly, allow us to think inside the box!

The JamBox

A financial services client is a firm believer in highly targeted, direct marketing campaigns. Often, the typical approach involves a message to individuals who desire to increase their wealth. But in this campaign, the idea arose that it might be better to target those individuals who have already accumulated wealth, but have concerns about their ability to pass it along to their heirs. In an uncertain economy, these individuals need assurances that the fruits of their hard work will be preserved. Hmm….how do we convey the message of preserving fruits..hmmm…think about it…ah ha – Preserves!

So we found a supplier of Arkansas-preserves, BlackBerry Jam to be specific, and mailed them to these targeted individuals. It was a very soft sell, we didn’t want to spread it on too thick.

Nothing is certain in life or direct marketing, but we feel pretty confident that this JamBox will get opened, and will receive a second look. We be jammin’.


Corporate golf outings remain popular events. Finding a way to get the most out of your sponsorship often times yields results that are sub-par. Our client knew they wanted to furnish top quality golf balls for this event, but if you are like me, those branding moments never seem to last beyond the 5th or 6th hole. We suggested this time that they think ON the box. We replaced the traditional golf ball sleeve with a customized, branded version that featured the flagship product. Now, every time the golfer reached for a ball, they couldn’t help but notice the sponsor. And our guess is, due to the uniqueness of these non-traditional “goody bag” items, they may have spent more time admiring them than their partner’s golf shot.

Did this approach work?

Here is what our client tells us:

Golf balls and boxes were a HIT! We will definitely do that again – one customer saw the picture of the motor on the box and approached our salesman to make an appointment to visit w/him about switching to our motors…

It sounds like that mulligan we purchased won’t be necessary.

If you are feeling a little boxed in with your direct marketing efforts, give us a call. We can help, and the cliche’s are optional!


Paul Strack, CustomXM


How Do They Do That?

I’ve always been a fan of magic.  Houdini, David Copperfield (the magician, not the book), Criss Angel (sort of) - the art of the illusion has always fascinated me. And if you are like me, a very good magic trick doesn’t always have to “wow” you, but it does need to leave you wondering – how do they do that? And once you figure it out, it’s like “oh yeah, why didn’t I think of that?”

Our upcoming Lunch & Learn on Wednesday, July 25th will showcase a little bit of magic as well.  The ABCs of Marketing Magic Made Simple, presented by Paul Schaller, may not mesmerize you with smoke and mirrors, but my guess it will still certainly have a “wow” effect.

Paul is the president of ABC Financial Services in Sherwood, AR. Over the past 20 years, he has guided ABC through the evolution of targeted, one-to-one marketing by implementing customized solutions to secure, enrich and maintain client relationships. This leadership magic has made ABC Financial the country’s largest provider of financial and marketing services for the health club industry.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I do point out that ABC Financial Services has been a client of ours since about 1998.  While our partnership has enabled ABC to take advantage of the one-to-one marketing technology, it has been the dynamic vision of Paul Schaller to make marketing magic when it comes to growing customer relationships.  I invite you to come hear more next Wednesday as Paul shares his magic.

You can register now at IntegratingMedia.com.

I look forward to seeing you there.



Paul Strack, CustomXM


Toyota Manufacturer Recalls Open Source Use of QR codes

In what is likely to cause an overwhelming groan among marketers and technologically savvy consumers (and cheers among designers and IT staff ), QR code inventor, Denso Wave has issued a cease and desist order to all users of this open source tool.  Invented by the Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process, this two dimensional bar code has been hailed as the savior of print, marketing budgets, and the ever-dwindling use of online commerce.

Speaking through a translator, Denso Wave President and Chief Executive Officer Mitsuhiko Masegi, expressed regret in taking this unprecedented legal action, stating, “I regret taking this unprecedented legal action.”  Masegi went on further to explain, “The QR (Quick Response) code was originally designed to improve productivity for manufacturers.  We wanted to offer this tool as a way of helping businesses focus on streamlining their operations.  Sadly, however, it seems people use it just to focus on their smartphones.”

Masegi noted increasing trends in the insulting use of variations of the code name itself into everyday pop culture.  “The bastardization of this worldwide brand is totally out of control. Last week I read where Prince, who once, as the artist formerly known as Prince had an extremely poor experience using a symbol to convey a message, had re-released his hit single, Let’s Go Qrazy!  And even one of my favorite American Country cross-over artists, Lionel Ritchie, has somehow re-created a new smash hit with the late Patsy Cline in a duet titled, Qrazy for You! In my honest opinion, this is just a bunch of Qrap!  Uh, I mean crap!”

Masegi commented that most Americans don’t fully appreciate that value of QR Codes.  He pointed to a recent study that claimed QR codes were dead in part because only 21.5% of American college students were able to recognize a QR code.  Masegi responded, “That’s still higher than the percentage of American college students that can  actually read. ‘Nuff said.”

Further evidence of corporate QR code misconduct can be found in names of entities and services providing guidance on this now obsolete code.  QReateandTrack, BeQRious, TrakQR are just a few of those domain names that will have to consider their response to this cease and desist action.

Citing what he called egregious usage flaws and borderline usage stupidity, Masegi relayed these most offensive trends he has witnessed –

  • Codes placed along posters and turnstiles in subway stations, where there is no connectivity.
  • Codes placed on billboards located on interstate highways.  Many of these are PSA type billboards encouraging drivers NOT to text and drive.
  • Codes tattooed on the lower back of college coeds. So low in fact that you really can’t get a good scan unless they are in beach attire, in a very skimpy bikini.
  • Edible QR codes.

In reference to the last offense, an obviously agitated Masegi noted, “Who in their sane mind would eat a QR code?  Even with liberal amounts of good saki, that makes no sense to me.”  Masegi offered the photo below as proof of the ongoing  insanity. 

Ironically, Masegi  pointed out that when one scanned the original QR cupcakes above, on what are now popularly referred to as QRupcakes,  the end user simply received the message, “Bite Me.” 

And apparently, that is what triggered the current legal action.


Happy April 1st, 2012!

QR Code is registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED.



Paul Strack, CustomXM


Marketing, Networking & BBQ!

One of my favorite aspects of small business ownership is the flexibility to be able to do things out of the norm, away from the daily routine, while hopefully bringing value to clients and prospects.  Our quarterly Lunch & Learns are a perfect example of this.  Over the past two years, we have had the opportunity to explore the latest in marketing trends from social media to location and mobile marketing and all things in between.  We’ve received great feedback from our attendees, and have tried to tailor our programs to help meet their needs.  And of key importance for me, we’ve had fun doing it.

Being a borderline “ham”, I always enjoy the role as a presenter.  On other occasions when we bring in guest experts, I find equal pleasure in playing host to our many guests.  Next Thursday, March 29, I have the pleasure of welcoming back to Little Rock my favorite Bostonian, John Foley, Jr.  John was with us just last June, but so much has changed in these past 9 months that we’ve asked him to come back for an encore presentation.  He will be presenting his “State of the Union” of social media and mobile marketing.  Here are just of a few of the challenges and questions he will be addressing:

  • Are the social and mobile channels actually working for marketing efforts?
  • Are customers and prospect benefitting from all the available mobile interaction?
  • Are businesses actually improving revenue by spending more money in these areas?

You may be familiar with some of the topics, and some may be completely new to you.  Either way, I guarantee an informative, entertaining 90 minutes chock full of marketing takeaways.  Throw in a catered lunch, it is the best $10 business value in town.

If you are not familiar with John, or want to hear a little more information, take a look at this video:

So if you are involved in marketing, or enjoy new trends and technology, or are looking for a networking opportunity and a great lunch, please join us on March 29th.

Register here:  http://IntegratingMedia.com

I look forward to seeing you next Thursday.


Paul Strack, CustomXM


Holiday Procrastinators Will Pay!

How many times have you let this happen to you: 

It’s early fall and you are thinking about this year’s Holiday Greeting cards.  You have your list of family, friends and worthy recipients in mind.  You think how unique and uncluttered it would be to send a Thankgsiving Day greeting card. 

But time slips away.

Veteran’s Day is certainly a card-worthy holiday, but the card selection is not in abundance. 

Time marches on. 

Chanukah seems to go on for days, Christmas is gone before you know it; Kwanzaa seems festive enough, but then it is so close to the Official New Year’s Greeting Day. So overdone.

So you panic, and instead, you do nothing. 

Ahh, but there is a light, or a holiday, at the end of the tunnel.  Nothing says We Are Thinking of You During This Holiday Season like a well worded, well timed, Valentine’s Day Greeting Card.

But this year, if you follow this path, it will cost you.

The USPS is officially raising single piece postage rates effective January 22, 2012.

Some of the more more noticable increases that will affect the Greeting Card givers are:

  • Letters (1 oz.): 1 cent increase to 45 cents
  • Letters additional ounces: unchanged at 20 cents
  • Postcards: 3 cent increase to 32 cents
  • Letters to Canada or Mexico (1 oz.): 5-cent 85 cents

Prices will also change for other mailing services, including Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services.  The increases for these vary according to a variety of laws, inflation and the Consumer Price Index.

So, what does this all mean for your Holiday Greeting Cards?

Finish them! Now!

And let us know if we can help in any way.

(A special thanks to Hilary DeMillo @hilarydemillo for allowing us to use the photo above.  The vintage stamps bring back fond memories.)

Happy Thanksgiving!


Paul Strack, CustomXM


Hot Dog Marketing

While we always try to have informative and engaging speakers for our quarterly Lunch & Learns, we certainly received a bonus in the local celebrity of Hot Dog Mike (@hotdog_mike). In continuing with our theme of True Confessions - Real Life Stories of Marketers in the Digital Age, Mike had the daunting task of addressing our fourth marketing point - Something Blue.

No, he was not going to talk to attendees about anything that was particularly depressing.  Instead, he was going to share his experiences using social media (Facebook  and Twitter) to promote and grow his business. How is this something blue?  You see, both Facebook and Twitter icons are blue in color.

Any good marketer knows that one of the first rules of engagement is Know Thy Audience.  In other words, who fits your demographic  profile?  When posed with that question, interestingly enough, Hot Dog Mike responded, “My demographic is shockingly, everybody.”  Man, woman, child.  Politicians, lawyers, musicians, student, librarian, police officer.  You name it, they (we) all gotta eat, right?

So how and why did he use social media to engage with this vast demographic audience?  Surprisingly, in the beginning, Mike wasn’t a big fan of social media.  But he did realize that in order to promote his product (in other words, he needed to market), he had to use a mechanism to help spread the word about what he was all about. And social media tools fit that need. 

Takeaway point - communicate your message using the tools that your target audience prefers to use.

Mike also realized that social media was an excellent tool to use for listening to his prospects, and his potential audience. And because it is a conversation, a dialogue, Mike used this tool to engage with his audience. 

Takeaway point - A successful marketer must use available channels to engage, interact, and react with his or her audience.

After establishing his internet presence using Facebook and Twitter, Mike began using these tools in a manner that fit his personality.  Yes, he is certainly about food, but he is also about his community, and he was looking for ways to incorporate ways to use his food truck to give back to the community. Again, his engagement with his audience allowed him to achieve these objectives.  Mike explains “my brand is me,” so all things related to social marketing are handled by Mike himself.  That way he is certain that it has his look, his voice, his feel.

Takeaway point - In matters of social media marketing, be yourself. Be transparent.  People generally prefer to engage with a person as opposed to a brand.

So there you have it, marketers in today’s digital age continue to use Something Old (direct mail), Something New (QR codes, pURLS), Something Borrowed (communications) and Something Blue (social media) in a variety of ways to ensure their success.  Cross media and multi-channel marketing tools provide for more effective ways to help you Market Smarter.


Paul Strack, CustomXM